A historic pub interior of national importance
This pub is currently closed (since 16/07/2020)
Listed Status: II229 Spring Bank
The stand-out feature at the Polar Bear is its magnificent ceramic-fronted counter, one of only fourteen surviving in the whole UK and the largest of any with a curved front. Its manufacturer was probably Burmantoft of Leeds, and Hull can proudly boast of another example - at the White Hart (see opposite). The pub itself, whose name reflects its siting near Hull’s one-time zoological gardens, was built in 1895 by prolific local architects Freeman, Son & Gaskell and later extended and refitted by them in 1922 (for the Hull Brewery Co.). This revamp added elements like the ‘orchestra’ area with its splendid domed skylight, the fitted bench seating and the striking stone signage outside. Modern alterations in the early 1980s retained the separate back smoke room (now a games room) but swept away a small partitioned-off saloon from within the large front bar. Statutorily listed in 2005 following a successful application by CAMRA.
The Polar Bear, sited near Hull’s one-time zoological gardens, was re-built in 1895 by prolific local architects Freeman, Son & Gaskell and its magnificent ceramic-fronted bar-counter, by Doulton’s of London, is one of only fourteen remaining in the whole of the UK. (There is another in Hull, at the White Hart, Alfred Gelder Street). Other Heritage Pubs with a ceramic bar counter are the Black Horse, Preston, Lancashire; Burlingtons Bar (at the Town House), St Annes on Sea, Lancashire; Mountain Daisy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; Red Lion, Erdington, Birmingham; Garden Gate, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire; Golden Cross, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Other examples can be found at Horse & Jockey, Wednesbury, West Midlands where a small part on the left has been lost; Castle, Manchester City Centre; Hark to Towler, Tottington, Greater Manchester where the bar has been moved; Waterloo Hotel & Bistro, Newport, Gwent, Wales which has no public bar facility; and there is one in China Red which was the Coach & Horses, Dunswell, East Yorks and now operates as a Chinese Restaurant.
The same architects extended and refitted the pub for the Hull Brewery Company in 1922, adding the grand-domed ‘orchestra’ area to the main bar, and the resulting layout is much as we see today – except that an old-style mahogany ‘Café Bar’ was sadly destroyed in alterations of the 1980s. The fitted seating (and the stone signage outside) are from the 1922 scheme. Statutorily listed in 2005 following a successful application by CAMRA.